One of the last undeveloped barrier islands in North Carolina is one step closer to permanent protection. Audubon North Carolina has purchased a 35-acre tract of land on Lea Island in Pender County. The money was made available through a private donation.
Andy Wood is Education Director for Audubon. He says Lea Island is one of the most important havens for shorebirds and waterbirds:
"These are animals that are iconic images for the coast. Things like least terns, common terns, black skimmers and oyster catchers. They all require bare open sandy island habitat, free of predators and free of vegetation. They want nice exposed sand."
Woods says the island is popular for recreation because it's accessible by boat. He says Audubon will protect the land from development and rope off bird nesting areas but there aren't any plans to limit overall beach access.